Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Nightmare in Ramallah
It is not unusual to see Israeli soldiers outside my office window. Since they have re-occupied the Palestinian Territories in 2001, the Israeli army can attack anytime and any place.
Sometimes, however, we long for peace and for democracy especially as we start this holy and glorious Lenten season walking the footstpes of Christ, we hoped for a better futrue in this sacred land where Christ was resurrected. It was Ash Wednesday for the Latin Church. Fr. Ibrahim mentioned that less than ten people showed up for Mass because they were scared to death to leave their homes.
It was the feast of St. Meletios for the Orthodox church. Fr. Meletios spent his name day right outside the church yard following the Divine Liturgy because the army invaded the Convent and declared it a military zone. I kept calling Fr. Meletios checking on him and hours after hours I was completely shocked he was still outside.
The soldiers raided my husband's building from 6 pm until midnight according to Issa who had stayed in one of the apartments with his three children thinking it would be safer than trying to go back to the village of Taybeh. The children were scared to death and it was an awful experience listening to shooting, gas bombs and sound bombs all night. The main heavy duty multi-lock door was bombed open and the pressure or the power of the explosion shattered all of the windows of four floors leaving thousand of glass pieces scattered from the top to the basement including damage to the elevator doors.
The next day I picked up bullets off of my son's bed since we also have an emergency apartment adjacent to the office to use fo rmiltary closures. I kept thinking how grateful I am that Constantine was not in his bed. I thanked God and parayed all day. The floor of the apartment had fifty bullet holes. First, I thought it was about 30 then out of curiosity I counted every one of them. As I was cleaning up the cement pieces and rubble off the floor, I was trying to imagine what were the soldiers most offended by that caused them to do all of this shooting. I can't imagine they did not like the beautiful ikon of the ever blessed Theotokos that I have on the wall or the picture of my daughter smiling. I figured it must have been the World Council of Churches slogan: "End the Occupation."
I am so lucky that I have a great view of Ramallah on the third floor of my husband's building thus the soldiers selected to ransack my office while they were shooting at young men on the main street. The only problem is they also caused great damage to the Episcopal Church and compound standing right next to the building. Furthermore, they invaded the Medical Relief Offices across the street and evacuated the medical workers at gunpoint affecting their ability to carry out their vital humanitarian roles. It is such a problem when soldiers need houses or offices as observation stations causing the occupants at times to be locked up in bathrooms or outside for over eight hours.
The reason the army invaded Ramallah was to protect the Israeli bank experts that wanted to enter three Arab banks and download programs and bank account information. The bank employees were ordered at gunpoint to stop working but not turn off their computers. Over seven million dollars was reported missing from the banks following the invasion.
In the last four years I have witnessed how American tax dollars are used to completely destroy the Palestinian people, culture, education, economy and land itself and how Israeli military policies create suicide bombers. I have tried to bring awareness that military aid to Israel is not just being used for "security" as Israel continues to innocently claim. I do feel like I am a voice in the wilderness but when pure destruction takes place all around me, I am going to keep making noise about it.